As the 2020 presidential election draws near, more and more Democratic candidates are announcing their entry into the race, with the total number of contenders in the primaries already exceeding 20. Some of them, such as Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren, have been labelled "socialist" by media and on social media, while others are seen as more conservative Democrats.
Harry William Braun, an American renewable energy consultant, researcher, and 2020 presidential candidate, agreed that the newer generation of Democratic contenders has shifted to the left in the political spectrum, including towards "socialism". However, his opponent, Michael E. Arth, an American artist and political scientist, claimed that calling this "new wave" socialist would be incorrect and that the correct term would be "social democrats", as these candidates do not stand for the "government owning all means of production as in the former USSR".
Noah Rudnick, an election data analyst, believes that the shift to the left will not have much impact on the elections, as both sides will always try to paint the other "as extreme".
"If a voter believes both parties are too fringe, then they may want a check on the president and vote against the presumed winner", Rudnick said.
Daniel Franklin, an associate professor of political science, told Sputnik that normally candidates moderate their policies in the general election, but the upcoming 2020 elections might be an anomaly.
"We are now in a unique situation. The public is so polarized that it would probably be a mistake for a Democratic presidential nominee NOT to run from the left. The key then will be for both parties to get their voters out to the polls", he said.
Stan Vaughan, a candidate for Nevada State Assembly District 15 in 2020, thinks the fact that the Democratic agenda has been "hijacked by a Socialist like Sanders" could force "Blue Dog conservative Democrats and Independents" to go as far as to vote for Donald Trump's re-election instead of supporting a Democratic candidate.
Another issue that Democratic candidates might face is that the Blue field is simply "overcrowded". Daniel Franklin believes that only candidates that are able to "set themselves apart" from others stand a chance to win a nomination.
"It is possible that one of the ‘minor' candidates may hit upon a formula for highlighting their candidacy. The key for any candidate in a crowded field will be to find a unique political lane in which to run. That would be an appeal to a political issue or constituency that is not currently well served by the Democratic Party", he told Sputnik.
Noah Rudnick, on the other hand, thinks the "lane" argument is "a bit overdone" until there are only 2-3 candidates left. The analyst pointed out that Sanders attracted many conservative and liberal voters who were just anti-Clinton and anti-establishment. At the same time, Rudnick is confident that most "minor" Democratic candidates will drop out early in the primaries.
Stan Vaughan considers former Vice President Joe Biden to be the most likely candidate to emerge from the Democratic primaries.
"If Sanders cannot beat Biden in Sanders' own backyard, it shows Democrat voters are rejecting the so called progressive left", he added.
At the same time, he acknowledged that African-American candidate Cory Booker would stand a chance in a standoff with Biden if another African-American candidate, Kamala Harris, drops out of the race, as both would be fighting for "black women voters".
Neither Rudnick, nor Franklin believes that Independent candidate Howard Schultz has much of a chance in the 2020 election.
"Schultz has indicated that he'll run as a moderate, at just the time most of the electorate is polarized. In that sense, the electorate is ‘hollowed out', and Schultz as a moderate has no constituency", Franklin said.
Commenting on the process of the election itself, Franklin noted that the candidate with the best argument showing that he or she is capable of beating Trump will have the greatest chance of becoming the Democratic Party nominee.
Rudnick agreed, pointing out that the last election was about Trump and 2020 will not be an exception.
Both Rudnick and Franklin predict that Russia's alleged role will be reduced in terms of its ability to affect the election. Rudnick believes that Russia will remain a "decent bogeyman", but the Mueller report may be the dominant topic that will "refocus the conversation". Franklin said, however, that the American people will be "more vigilant and more sceptical about what [they] read on social media", and thus Russia's purported influence will not play a "major role" in 2020.
The views and opinions expressed are those of the speakers and do not necessarily reflect those of Sputnik.